Stella says the team will initially try not to focus on direct comparisons with Lando Norris, who is entering his fifth year of F1.
Instead the team will focus on ensuring that Piastri is as prepared as possible for the challenge of his first season at the highest level.
“We’ll say that the way we’ve set up this topic internally isn’t so much about Lando as it is about Oscar, but it’s about making sure we have strong processes and the outcome will take care of itself, basically,” Stella said. .
“So if you start on day one comparing and saying we’re not achieving this performance, I think that’s a way you can discourage your drivers. So we are careful with that.
“We know that Lando is one of the fastest drivers on the grid, but at the same time I have to say that what we have seen so far with Oscar is very impressive. So we have to manage that carefully.
“We will certainly use the comparison to the benefit of both, because there is always something to learn. There are many corners in the track to see who is braking faster or if the other is faster at high speed.
“So you just have to put that together, but do it constructively, focused on the process. Let the outcome take care of itself.”
Andrea Stella, McLaren Team Principal, Oscar Piastri, McLaren
Photo by: McLaren
Piastri admitted he was a bit “rusty” after failing to race last year, having won the Formula 2 title in 2021.
In 2022 the Australian did some testing for Alpine and drove for McLaren in the Abu Dhabi post-season test, while this year he did some private runs in the 2021 car and had a brief run during this week’s rework of the MCL60 in Bahrain , before official testing.
Piastri admits it will take time to fully update, but he doesn’t know how long it will take.
“I think it’s hard work to put a number on the number of races he’ll take,” he said. “In Bahrain, I will have a good idea of where I am.
“I think there’s always been an adaptation period coming into F1 from any racing. The cars are much faster, the people I’m racing against are the best drivers in the world.
“So, no matter if I had a year off, it was always a challenge. And I think, in terms of standing against Lando, there will be natural comparisons in the same car.
“But I think we’re obviously at different stages of our careers. Lando is going into his fifth year, I’m going into my first. I’m not drawing on that too much.
“I think it will be good to have him as a team member and a good benchmark, as well as he is clearly established as a great driver in F1. And I am sure I will be able to learn a lot from him.”
Oscar Piastri drove the McLaren MCL36 in the post-season test at Abu Dhabi
Photo by: Michael Potts / Motorsport Images
Piastri emphasized that his quick and successful progression through the junior ranks shows that he can easily adapt to different cars.
“I’m not worried about that aspect of things and the lack of experience,” he said. “I think I had to change cars every year during my junior career, I didn’t drive the same car for over a year. So adaptation is a big strength you need in the junior categories.
“Obviously I’ve done a bit of testing in the 2021 car, and the post-season testing last year with McLaren. So I know a little bit what to expect. But I think you always have to adapt as a driver, there will always be certain things that you might not fit as well as you want.
“As a racing driver you always want more grip and more power. So I think there are always some limits. That’s how you can drive around them.”